At the end of Parshat Masei, the Torah discusses accidental killings andערי מקלט , cities of refuge. One interesting aspect of this process is that a murderer may leave the עיר מקלט once the Kohen Gadol dies: כי בעיר מקלטו ישב עד מות הכהן הגדול, ואחרי מות הכהן הגדול ישוב הרוצח אל ארץ אחוזתו (35:28). What does the Kohen Gadol’s death have to do with the murderer going back home? The Rambam offers the following explanation: It is the nature of a person that when he suffers a great misfortune, if others share his misfortune his own personal suffering is alleviated. Therefore, although the family of the deceased suffers greatly, the death of the Kohen Gadol, the one death felt strongly throughout the Jewish People, offers partial consolation to the family. Therefore, the accidental murderer is allowed to leave at that point.
This idea can help all those suffering to cope with their misery. When someone is in pain, his suffering is increased because he feels, “I am the only one who suffers so much.” However, if he simply opens his emotions to the world around him, he will see how much others are suffering. Suddenly his personal pain is placed in a more positive perspective. He may still feel the sting of his pain, but he realizes how much those around him feel the same way.
However, a word of caution is needed. If you choose to use this method to alleviate someone else’s pain, you must be careful. A person usually does not want to hear that someone else is suffering more than he is. Rather, your plea to him should have a personal connection to him. You must show that you really care, and you must not only take into account what you want to say but also how the person on the receiving end will take it.